The Canon EOS 60D is not an impulse purchase by any means, a body-only version costing a wallet battering £800 Ours was supplied with a stunningly sharp 17-55m f/2.8 image-stabilised zoom (there’s no body integral anti shake), at a price in the region of £1,600 if camera and lens are bought together. .
In return you get a whopping 18-megapixel effective resolution from an APS-C sized sensor offering Canon’s standard magnification factor of 1.6x whichever lens is attached, whilst the company’s regulation issue Digic 4 processor here affords a burst speed of 5.3 frames per second. That’s hardly class leading but respectable for what’s still a consumer model, as is its lightning fast 9-point auto focus (AF) system.
Most recent competition comes from the similarly chunky and fully featured Nikon D7000, Pentax K-5, and the Olympus E-5.
Canon EOS 60D: Controls
Like its Olympus rival, the Canon EOS 60D features the compositional advantage of a tilt and swivel LCD, 3-inches in size and with a life-like display when in Live View mode, thanks to its higher-than-average 1.04-million dot resolution. The inclusion of an angle adjustable screen is a first for the EOS range and one which proves useful when shooting Full HD video in particular, which here gets its own icon on the busy shooting mode dial, signaling the feature’s increased prominence in the world of digital SLR.
Unusually the Canon’s monitor is presented with a 3:2 aspect ratio rather than the standard 4:3, or even 16:9, but otherwise everything else about the Canon EOS 60D feels both large and obvious, including the comfortably meaty handgrip. With a body-only 755g weight, the camera feels reassuringly substantial when held.
As is the way with Canon DSLRs, Live View is first enabled via the menu system, and once activated, can be implemented with a press of a dedicated button, located just to the right of the optical viewfinder, where it therefore can’t be missed. Press it and you’ll here the camera’s mirror audibly flip out of the way before Live View kicks in. If filming video, as a time-saver this handily doubles up as the record button.
The Canon EOS 60D’s response times are blink-of-an-eye fast. A flick of the on/off switch behind the main shooting mode dial and as soon as our forefinger found the shutter release button the camera was ready to shoot. With a half press determining focus and exposure in instant, a full press fires the shutter with a satisfyingly loud ‘clunk’.
For manually adjusting still photo settings, we get the usual array of command dials, sundry function buttons and rear scroll wheel, generally considered quicker than tabbing through options, yet a little more fiddly in our experience.
A large LCD window located to the right of the top plate allows key selections such as drive mode, metering and ISO speed to be adjusted instantly – a major advantage on mid range DSLRs such as this. Adjusting each option merely requires a joint button press and twist of the scroll wheel at the back, rather than the command dial situated in front. Despite the apparent outward complexity then, operation is fairly intuitive.
Canon EOS 60D: Features
In a DSLR review of this length we can only really highlight main features, and, as we’d expect of a mid range model the Canon EOS 60D’s standard light sensitivity range of ISO100-6400 is expandable. Here that’s up to ISO12800 for conditions where light is low but you’d rather avoid using the pop-up flash.
Also expected is the Canon’s ability to shoot a JPEG file on its own or combine it with optimum quality Raw shooting, to which the camera normally applies no processing. However there’s the ability to process a Raw file in-camera too – usually an undertaking requiring specialist software – with the ‘new’ image being saved as a JPEG. The above extends the user-friendly feel.
Further time saving features seem to have been inspired by compact cameras. A press of the enigmatic ‘Q’ button to the right of the LCD on the backplate brings up a ‘Quick Control’ toolbar on the left hand side of the screen. A Basic+ mode allows users to apply creative settings when shooting in the Basic modes without having to have extensive photographic knowledge, while a dose of fun is delivered via the Canon EOS 60D’s creative digital filters. Options here include toy camera, grainy black and white, miniature and soft focus. These effects can be applied to both Raw and JPEG images post-capture, thereby maintaining the fastest operational speed at the capture stage.
Canon EOS 60D: Picture quality
As with any DLSR, results will improve proportionally to the amount of money you spend on whichever lens you choose to accompany the 60D body.
Our test lens proved a very able partner however. In standard picture control setting we were very pleased with the natural yet utterly absorbing colour tones the Canon delivered. When we wanted to point and shoot the AF system proved fast and accurate. This meant that even if busy scenes caused momentary confusion, it was easier to simply re-compose the frame and try again than switch to manual and possibly lose the moment.
Though there’s very little we can fault when it comes to performance, the one over-riding shame here is that a £800 body-only price tag conceivably places the Canon EOS 60D out of reach of the average compact camera owner. This is the audience whose photography arguably stands to benefit the most from such a fully featured yet accessible device.
Canon EOS 60D launch date: Out now, link Canon
Canon EOS 60D price: Around £800 body only, with 17-55mm lens on test around £1600